This is tricky and sneaky… and you’ll want to share this with everyone you know!
I’ve made this mistake SO many times myself over the years, and I *shudder* to think how it affects diabetics and others who are super sensitive to sugar.
Not to mention the fact that it can throw you right out of ketosis! 🙄
I discussed this live inside our Low Carb Challenge Group the other night, and I recorded that conversation – so you can watch the video below.
But I want to make some corrections too, so keep reading…
Starbucks Iced Coffee Includes “Sugar Water” By Default!
According to their website the hot brewed coffee like Blonde Roast or Pike Place does NOT contain “Classic Syrup” – which is basically just sugar water:
“Classic Syrup [Sugar, Water, Natural Flavors, Potassium Sorbate, Citric Acid]”
By default, the Iced Coffee – even if you order it black – DOES come “lightly sweetened” using up to SIX pumps of their Classic Syrup.
This means that a Large (Venti, 20 ounce) “black iced coffee” – which you would ASSUME is just coffee and ice – has 30 grams of sugar, and is 30 carbs.
Again, that is BY DEFAULT.
It says on their website that the Starbucks Iced Coffee is served “chilled and lightly sweetened over ice.”
If you order your iced coffee with a sugar free syrup, such as “a Venti Iced Coffee with sugar free vanilla and heavy cream please” – most baristas KNOW to leave out the Classic Syrup.
But regardless of how you order your coffee or tea at Starbucks, hot or cold, to be on the safe side you should always say: “No Classic Syrup, please.”
Your drink tag should SAY “no classic” on it:
Otherwise you may be getting a BIG dose of unexpected sugar!
And I can tell you from personal experience… you cannot even taste it. Their coffee is quite stout/bitter, so even with the 20-30 grams of sugar water (depending on the size of your coffee) you aren’t likely to notice it.
Correct Carb Count for Heavy Whipping Cream (HWC)
You’ll notice that I ask for “heavy whipping cream” in my iced coffee. I do like it creamy. 🙂 However, next time I’ll definitely ask for “half the amount” because I find it’s entirely TOO creamy. I do that when I order an iced coffee at McDonald’s too – I ask for half the amount of cream.
Anyway, I would guess that they use AT LEAST 1/3 cup of heavy cream (HWC) in even a small iced coffee at starbucks, going by the color and taste of mine – pictured above.
While most cartons of Heavy Whipping Cream SAY zero carbs on the label, that’s only because the serving size is 1 TBSP. A tablespoon of HWC is actually .4 carbs, so it comes to 7 carbs per cup.
While this may not matter if you’re having 1 tbsp here and there, it certain matters if you’re using 2 full cups in a recipe – or if you’re getting a large iced coffee that has 1/2 cup or more of HWC in it.
Half & Half is .6 carbs per TBSP (9.6 carbs per cup).
HWC or Heavy Whipping Cream is .4 carbs per TBSP (6.4 carbs per cup).
Again, no matter what the label says, as it’s going by serving size – and if it’s less than 1 carb “per serving” they can label it as zero.
If you’ve been logging your HWC as zero carbs, or your entry in MyFitnessPal is incorrect, you’ll want to find an accurate entry to use to log Heavy Whipping Cream.
I use the entry below myself. To find it in MFP, just search: “Usda – Cream, Fluid Heavy Whipping” (without quotes).
Know What’s In Your Coffee!
This shocking little “sugar secret” about the iced coffee at Starbucks really blew me away. But it goes back to taking personal responsibility and knowing what’s in your food and drink choices.
The only way to know for sure is to look up the Nutrition Facts online.
Starbucks has a very detailed mobile app so you can look things up on the go. You can also look up their menu items online, and discover that a Venti Caffè Americano is 4 carbs.
Most chains provide nutrition facts online, and also offer a mobile app where you can customize your meal or food choices to get accurate nutrition facts. That’s how I discovered that the ranch dressing at McDonald’s is TEN net carbs! 😯
To make it easy I usually carry my own coffee creamer with me on road trips, or when I’m out & about – so I can just get a black coffee. I am currently using Coffee-Mate Sugar Free Powdered Hazelnut coffee creamer (below).
The powdered creamer is less carbs than the liquid, and more portable – no refrigeration required, so it’s great for road trips & hotel rooms. 🙂
The hazelnut flavor is the ONLY one I’ve found that I actually like, AND it’s lower in carbs than the other sugar free flavors.
I’ve made the mistake of ordering a “large black iced coffee” at Starbucks more than once, or a “large iced coffee with heavy cream” and sometimes sugar free vanilla.
Just make sure you say “no classic syrup please” so you KNOW you aren’t getting the extra sugar water (and lots of extra carbs!). 😉
I’m not sure how much heavy cream they put into my coffees when I ask for “Heavy Whipping Cream” instead of milk or half & half, but for my small iced coffee pictured above – I logged it as 1/3 cup. Although I would venture to guess it may have even been 1/2 cup – which would come to 3.2 carbs (at .4 carbs per TBSP).
The iced tea at Starbucks is also served “lightly sweetened” by default.
A Venti Teavana® Shaken Iced Black Tea is 16 carbs, with 16 grams of sugar – even though sugar is NOT listed in the ingredients on their website…
Discount Code: LOWCARBTRAVELER
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